The Oakland Raiders travel to Green Bay to face the Packers in a Preseason Week 3 match-up at Lambeau Field. The third preseason game is generally the dress rehearsal for the regular season with the starters getting the most playing time of any game on the exhibition slate.
In a little over two weeks, the Raiders will be on their way to New York to play the Jets in Week 1 of the regular season. The squad knows they have a lot to correct before that game, but are looking forward to gauging their progress against Aaron Rogers and the Packers this week.
“It gives us a chance to see where we’re at,” said Head Coach Dennis Allen. “We’re excited about the opportunity. We’ve got a lot of work between now and then, but it’ll be a great environment to play football in and it’s a good football team we’re going up there to play.”
The Raiders have transitioned out of training camp mode and into an in-season schedule, which means more time allotted for game-planning. “A lot of our focus and attention’s been turned to Green Bay,” said Coach Allen.
Acting out a game week is a good way for the new additions and rookies to become familiar with the regular season schedule as a Raider. “It’s treated just like a game week. We approach it that way with our meetings, our schedule, our daily routine,” said QB
A match-up with the Packers, who have accomplished veterans on both sides of the football, will be a great test for the Raiders. “We obviously have a huge challenge playing those guys at their place. They’re a very opportunistic defense. They’ve added some pieces on their defense. Obviously, anytime you add a guy like Julius Peppers, that causes some concern, and they’ve been opportunistic in their secondary in being able to take the football away. They’re an aggressive defense,” Coach Allen described. “Offensively, arguably they’re one of the best offenses in the league. I think they were a top-10 offense both in running the ball and in throwing the ball last year. The quarterback is a tremendous player and they’ve got good skill position players to get the ball to. It’ll create a great challenge for our defense and it will be a good barometer to where we’re at.”
Several members of the Silver and Black played for the Packers last year and will be returning to Lambeau to play for the first time. “I don’t know if I am looking forward to playing against ‘A-Rod’ [Packers QB Aaron Rodgers], but it’ll be fun to go back in that stadium,” said veteran FS
Having played on the offense with Aaron Rodgers, Jones is keenly aware of his talent and ability to pick apart defenses. “Everything. Him,” Jones answered when asked what makes the Packers offense successful. “He’s the guy that keeps the train rolling. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Probably going to go down as one of the best to ever do it if he stays healthy. With him, it’s kind of pick your poison; you just try to contain him. He’s got great weapons on the outside with those guys, so you just try to contain him. He’s an unbelievable quarterback. They’ve got unbelievable receivers on the outside to make plays and they help him out.”
Rodgers will be a good challenge for the Raiders defense. “It’s the ultimate test. ‘A-Rod’ is the best quarterback in the league, in my eyes,” said Woodson. “Their offense has been explosive. I’ve seen it first-hand for many years. It’ll be as tough as it gets, so it will be a great test for us going in there.”
The Packers veteran quarterback is the one player all of the Raiders defensive players hone in on when discussing the Green Bay offense. “He’s a good quarterback. He’s top five in the league, arguably number one depending on who you’re talking to, so whenever you play a guy like that, you have your work cut out for you,” said SS
Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver expects Rodgers to be a good barometer for his defense. “He’s amazing how fast he can get the ball out. Yeah, you’ve got to play top-down on this guy,” said Coach Tarver. “He can move and he can throw it the length of the field when he moves. There’s no better in the world than him at that. This is good. Use our rules and take care of ourselves, but make sure we communicate, because they function on the line of scrimmage like some of teams in our division, so it’s a good practice game for that.”
The Raiders offense will have their work cut out for them as well, facing a Packers defense with LBs Julius Peppers, A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews and big linemen in B.J. Raji and Datone Jones. “First and foremost, it always starts by protecting the quarterback,” said Jones. “Once we protect the quarterback, receivers, we have to make plays down the field against their great secondary. We’re going to have to make contested plays and then we’re just going to have to run the ball. We have two very good running backs and we’re going to have to run the ball and just keep it balanced to keep them on their toes.”
Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson sees this game, and every practice at this point of the preseason, as important. “We’re playing a real quality opponent in the Green Bay Packers. They’ve got one of the better defensive lines that we’ll see,” said Coach Olson. “They’ve got a real strong secondary. I think Sam Shields is one of the better corners in the league that we’ll get a chance to play against. I think it’s going to be a great test for our offense, period, to kind of gauge where we’re at. We’re excited. Is it important? Yeah, it’s important. Every game is important. Every practice is important at this point for us. It gives our guys a chance to be in the huddle together with a bunch of new faces. The more they can play together, the better off we’ll be when the regular season starts.”
The offensive line knows they’ll have to work together well to fend off the Packers defense at Lambeau Field. “Their defense, and their whole team entirely, is a team who knows how to win games,” said OL
Howard and his unit will have plenty of time to work, as Coach Olson said the first team will play deep into the game. “The ones will have significant playing time. We’d like to see them through the first half, maybe into the third quarter. Then, we’d bring in the No. 2 quarterback after that,” said Coach Olson.
The players want to see continued improvement as they make their way through the preseason. Howard wants the offense to finish, something the team struggled with during the 2013 season. “We want to go out and finish drives. We want to go out and score points early, and we don’t want to have one of those situations where we score points and we’re up and then we end up losing in the last three minutes,” said Howard. “We want to finish this game how we know we can finish, and that means blocking downfield through the whistle, making sure that we can do everything up front communication-wise and doing those extra, little things to just help get this offense more success.”
And while improvement is key, a win is ultimately what the Raiders are looking for in Preseason Week 3. “It would be huge [to put big points on the board],” said Schaub. “To go on the road in the third preseason which, like we said, you really treat like an in-season game, you want to go out and establish yourself early in the football game as a football team on the road. And no better place than to go play in Green Bay and to do that against a good football team.”
The Raiders will face the Packers at Lambeau Field at 5:00 p.m. PT. Catch the game on CBS and 98.5 KFOX. Follow along on Raiders.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.